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The 25 Movies that literally moved us

Raiders of the Lost Ark
Raiders of the Lost ArkAP
/ Source: Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel

20) In the Mood for Love
Hong Kong | 2000

And what a mood it is: Director Wong Kar-wai’s 1962 Hong Kong is all dramatic shadows, swinging hips, lingering glances, and stunning clothes. After discovering their spouses are having an affair, two neighbors, Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung) and Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung) turn to the only people they can—each other.

Your Turn: The retro-chic Hong Kong of 1962 doesn’t exist, which is why the exteriors were shot in Bangkok. Compare the two cities yourself: Escapes Unlimited is selling a package that goes to Hong Kong and Bangkok; it includes round-trip air on Cathay Pacific from L.A. or San Francisco, two nights in Hong Kong, and three nights in Bangkok (800/243-7227, escapesltd.com, $899, valid through March 31). Even better, there’s an optional $499 add-on to Cambodia, so you can end your trip at Angkor Wat, just like in the movie. While in Hong Kong, be sure to stop at the trapped-in-amber Goldfinch Restaurant, in Causeway Bay. It still feels like the ’60s inside, which is why Wong Kar-wai shot restaurant scenes there (13-15 Lan Fong Rd., 011-852/2577-7981).

19) Auntie Mame
New York City | 1958

The quintessential New York movie: Not because you see the city—the film is mostly set in Mame’s ritzy Beekman Place apartment—but because Mame is the quintessential New Yorker. A socialite pressed into a sort of social work, caring for Patrick, her orphaned nephew, Mame (Rosalind Russell) is an irrepressible bon vivant—and what every New Yorker aspires to be. Did we mention that apartment? 

Your Turn: “Live, live, live!” is Mame’s philosophy. “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!” So stop worrying about money and start having fun. During the Depression, Mame sells roller skates at Macy’s, but Bergdorf Goodman is a better bet for department-store glamour (754 Fifth Ave., 212/753-7300). Savor caviar—“fishberry jam,” in Patrick’s words—at Petrossian (182 W. 58th St., 212/245-2214, prix fixe pretheater dinner $31, caviar is a $10 supplement). Have a nightcap at Top of the Tower, on the 26th floor of the Beekman Tower Hotel, near Beekman Place, where Mame lived. What to order? “Anything, darling,” says Mame. “Just make it a double” (49th St. and First Ave., 212/980-4796, martini $10).

18) Easy Rider
The southwestern U.S. | 1969

Freedom is a state of mind in this counterculture classic. Hippies Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper, who directed) set off on a motorcycle trip from L.A. to Louisiana. They’re joined along the way by an alcoholic southern lawyer (Jack Nicholson).

Your Turn: First, rent a Harley-Davidson from EagleRider (800/501-8687, eaglerider.com, Sportsters for $75 a day, valid motorcycle license required). The duo camps in Bellemont, Ariz., 12 miles west of Flagstaff. The Pine Breeze Inn—they’re denied a room—has closed, but you can camp on the property. Down the road, the Route 66 Roadhouse Bar & Grill is packed with Harley memorabilia (928/774-5080). They ride through Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and Utah’s Monument Valley. In New Orleans, the boys celebrate Mardi Gras on the corner of Bourbon and Toulouse. Afterward, walk through St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, where Billy, Wyatt, and friends drop acid.

17) “Crocodile” Dundee
Australia | 1986

Kangaroos, the Opera House, Outback pubs serving Foster’s... Australians grumble about the clichés in this vehicle for comedian Paul Hogan, but there’s no arguing that the blockbuster did wonders for the country’s profile. Americans saw Australians the way we used to see ourselves—pioneering, unflappable, and at ease in the wilderness.

Your Turn: When you get to Darwin, in the Northern Territory, hook up with Adventure Tours for a guided foray into the bush. For $525 including meals, transportation, and tented camping, you get a six-day Top End Safari through the terrain covered by Mick Dundee (Hogan), including Kakadu National Park (011-61/8-8309-2277, adventuretours.com.au). The pub scenes were filmed at the Federal McKinlay Hotel, 1,100 miles away in McKinlay, Queensland. The hotel—which in Australia usually denotes a bar, not lodging—has been renamed Crocodile Dundee’s Walkabout Creek Hotel. Fortunately, the joint is nowhere near as rowdy as depicted on-screen (Middleton St., 011-61/7-4746-8424).

16) The Indiana Jones films
The world | 1981, 1984, 1989

In producer George Lucas and director Steven Spielberg’s homage to 1930s serials, Indiana Jones is a professor who uses his wits, a pistol, and a bullwhip in pursuit of artifacts. Part science geek and part action hero, Jones was into adventure travel before it was trendy.

Your Turn:  The shooting locales rarely jibe with reality—especially in Raiders of the Lost Ark, in which the “South American jungle” is Kauai, and “Egypt” is Tunisia. In Temple of Doom, Indy (Harrison Ford) goes on a car chase through “Shanghai.” The scenes were filmed in Macao, a former Portuguese colony turned Asian Vegas; it’s an $18 ferry ride from Hong Kong. After our heroes bail out of a plane aboard a raft over “the Himalayas,” they shoot the rapids of the American River in Placerville, Calif. Tributary Whitewater Tours charges $88 to $104 to raft the Middle Fork (800/672-3846, whitewatertours.com). “India” footage was shot in the Kandy area of Sri Lanka. Intrepid has land-only independent tours that visit Kandy, an elephant orphanage, and a tea plantation, starting at $512 (866/847-8192, intrepidtravel.com). In Last Crusade, a teenage Indy (River Phoenix) foils thieves while on a Boy Scout horseback trek in Arches National Park (866/646-0388, nationalparkreservations.com, 90-minute horseback rides $35). The chase happens aboard the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad (888/286-2737, cumbrestoltec.com, from $55). The Grail’s resting place in the movie is an ancient temple carved from a cliffside in Petra, Jordan. Adventure Center runs a $760, 10-day Lawrence’s Arabia trip through Jordan to Petra out of Amman (800/228-8747, adventurecenter.com). Of course, actual archaeology tends to involve a lot more digging. The Archaeological Institute of America publishes lists of digs around the world (617/353-9361, archaeological.org).

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